Prose and Poetry

My thoughts and interpretations of others written material and bodies of writing.

Death

      That infamous moment when the music stops, the scrambling, clawing, kicking and screaming begin. This chaos is in sharp contrast to the preceding time that was spent making the necessary preparations to ensure that survival; alliances were struck to overcome stronger opponents, friendships made, plotting, planning and even scheming were all employed at some point. But in the end there are only a limited number of chairs which are cruelly disproportionate to the many who would lay claim to them. And only in that moment does Death reveal itself as an elemental player in this woeful game that has been with you throughout the whole time you were playing. We then realize that there will be no more days left to waste without even a thought of tomorrow. To not say the words we wished to say to someone because we simply cannot find the right time for them to be spoken. Or to make the preparations that are needed to ensure the ease of those left behind. Death is the moment when everything ceases. It is a natural response that does not favor any one person or time over another.  Death will lay its claim to us all at some point, some before their perceived time and others too late to be offered any justice.

Advertisements

Love

          Love is when the time spent between two people does not seem to carry any relevance and it is just as there was no passing moment between the two lovers. Love is akin to the nostalgic feelings of youthful friendship and it commands a certain sense of wonderment about your lover that nothing can make plain or unexciting. Love is when you wake up one day and realize that you have been together for fifty years and you cannot place where the years have went.

Dynamic Character Spotlight: Bruce Wayne of Batman. – This is an essay response about the main character and his choices in situ.

               What can you get the man who seemingly has it all? That can be a tough billet for anyone especially when the person in question has no need for material items like; cars, watches, homes, friends, etc. But what if the one thing that he most desperately wanted was the validation from a parent who was no longer with him in life? Bruce Wayne is a quintessential example of the classic troubled past hero who has filled the pages of comics, stories, imaginations and ultimately motion pictures of our contemporary times. He is a man trapped within the confines of the very comfort and safety that comprises his wealthy lifestyle. His self loathsome nature is deeply rooted in his childhood and the one experience that has fostered an aura of fear and shame and allowed it to set like mortar, limiting the ability for anyone to reach him personally. His worsening condition takes him far from home and to increasingly desperate situations until he is given a chance from a mysterious foil that can repair the broken man but may have contrary plans for his new pupil. The peace of mind Bruce always wanted is his to realize but he must first battle his fears and prove that he has beaten the stigma that has plagued his mind and regain vindication in the eyes of his father.

               On the outside, you are allowed to see a carefree, youthful and oft times indiscriminate billionaire who merely haphazardly exists on the wealth of his family name. He has no ties to the family business or plans to carry on any of the same work that his mother or father had done before their murder. By all accounts it would be easy to see him as a static character, but within his mind boils a tempestuous rage of, anger, longing, and revenge. He is fully consumed in the events of his past and has allowed them to shape the limits of his existence. To right the wrongs of the past the hero tries to understand the mechanism of the criminal element by living in secret among them and indulging in their ways (albeit in a calculated manner so not to really break the law or any moral barriers. This trait is symptomatic of the struggle he undergoes to find himself throughout the story and defines his susceptibility to good or evil).

               His travels do not resolve any internal struggle for him and the character seems to wane at this point until he is met by a mysterious stranger who offers the chance to rebuild his life without any mention of the implications of his service. The disheveled hero takes the offer and is then reborn through The League of Shadows by retooling Wayne’s view of himself and his circumstances. He is made to face his fears and in turn taught to use his enemies’ fears against them. It is here I think Bruce Wayne undergoes all the changes that define him as a dynamic character. He is taught to control his emotional mind and function above the level of the common person. He is shown how to employ the rage he internalizes as a tool to accomplish his means. The only caveat comes when the ceremonious completion of his training arises and he refuses to be compliant when an order is given that violates his moral code (once again another symptom of the troubled hero by way of not completely losing the virtues that set him apart from the criminals he is sworn to fight). From here he breaks ties with the organization that has given him the knowledge to be more effective.

               Bruce Wayne returns to his home city and begins to be re seeded into the life which he shirked for so long. He uses this return to establish the groundwork for his double personality and also to gain access to the means to fight the criminal element. The character slowly begins to become more compassionate with those around him and reveal the hidden side of his personality that was though lost by all who knew him. And as this revelation is unfolding, the plot turns to place stress on this new ideal. Characters from his past reappear and bring ruin to all the protagonist has come to know and stand for. In this light Batman must than prove to both himself and the indelible image of his symbolic nature that he can withstand the stress and finally face the very things that undermine his success. By the end of the story the hero does not waver from his tenets and brings a sense of personal completion to the memory of his parents and redeems himself from his distraught ways. Bruce Wayne then finds the peace he so desperately sought all along although he had to lose “everything” to get to that place.  He still has found it and makes for a very varied and constantly reinventing character in this story.

               I chose this character because of his symbolic value to everyone who may be able to identify with some of the issues faced within. I think the progression of his mindset was very human and organic to our own nature. His metamorphosis throughout the story was fresh and constantly being tested causing the protagonist to update what he values in real time (which can be viewed as a trait of depth by itself) leaving the viewer with a more tangible sense of struggle and tension. Also the mixing of both good and evil methodology brings a more round sense of being to Batman. It makes the story progress in a less fairytale or superhero fashion due to the realistic nature of choices we all face.

A personal comparison/contrast essay of the main character in Tom Whitecloud’s Iconic reading: Blue Winds Dancing

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” This statement is an iconic quote made by the American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. People often look different, talk different and have different viewpoints but almost always have the same end result in mind. Both Tom Whitecloud’s character in the story “Blue Winds Dancing” and I have many differences in almost every conceivable area of measure. We are not the same race, age, or possess the same beliefs or values. It would be easy to draw the conclusion that we are the proverbial “apples and oranges”. But it is only upon closer inspection that there are such striking similarities between the two us that they seem almost nearly identical.

            The Author’s character in his story ventures away from the reservation from which he was raised and attends a college far from his home. He is not learning the history and philosophies of his ancestry but the supplant information to override those truths with Eurocentric ideals. This setting has a unique effect on him because the teachings he learns there directly contradict and seemingly belittle the traditions of his people. The protagonist comes to a conclusion that he does not fully relate to his fellow tribesman or the white students. And from this point the character makes a choice to abandon one of these ideals in favor of fully embracing the other so he leaves school and finds his way back to his reservation to be with his family.

            Similarly, I have also made choices that have led me far away from my home. I have adopted a whole other cultural mindset in addition to the one I was raised with. I accomplished this means by enlisting into the United States Marine Corps immediately after graduating from high school. This decision had greatly affected my life but did not improve it in the way in which I thought it would. I, like the protagonist,  found myself balancing two lifestyles that were not intermixable and causing growing communication problems between my personal relationships as well as my job. I elected to only focus on the choice that had more impact in my life and concluded my service to the Marines after two enlistments.

            In contrast to how the actual mechanics of each tale unravel, the end result is quite polarizing. Whitecloud’s character in the end of his story concluded that he wanted to be free and live as his people did without the added adoption of the white American culture. He returned home and was accepted back as a member of his tribal unit once again. He realized that his familial bond was too great and needed to be more prevalent in his life whereas I have not espoused the same fervor for being close to my family. Upon leaving the Marines I did not return to where my family lives but settled down farther away to establish my own identity and endeavor to make my own way. This is an interesting answer to how people approach evolving their ancestry in modern times.

            There are many interesting and varied people in the world who have so many different and unique cultural processes. A person can easily forget that the choices we all make as humans nearly always reflect the same sentiment towards some basic values that are inherent to us all: family, love, duty, responsibility are just a few. This knowledge leaves us all with the thought that maybe for all of our striking differences we are more alike than we realize…

“How shalt thou hope for mercy, rend’ring none?” – A take on the final act in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

             

Film adaptation starring Al Pacino, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy irons, and a very good supporting cast

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12578  Project Gutenberg full version of play for download (go ahead and educate yourself ) 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Merchant_of_Venice Or read an abbreviated synopsis (not recommended) 

        In this, the crescendo of the play,  Shylock is pursuing the last and most vengeful blow he can make onto Venetian society and onto his enemy Antonio in particular. He has been, up to this point, treated as an animal (whom the Venetians still use his “barbarian” services well enough) in the city, he is spat upon by merchants, dehumanized and criticized by all, and finally he is robbed by his very daughter. And in her treachery she has taken from him two bags of ducats and various jewelries that include a ring given to him from his late wife. Worse yet his daughter, as it has been told by Tubal, has thoughtlessly traded that ring for a monkey (Act 3.1.16) and fled with a Christian man (whom is party with Antonio {ironic}) and has denounced Judaism to convert to Christianity. Shylock is left in a state of severe shock and probably views the killing of Antonio as the last move he can make against his unrelenting enemies. His vindication would serve two purposes: on the one hand he can deliver a crushing blow to the one whom has terribly mocked him in public and caused him great pains. And secondly he can lash out at the Venetian people and use their own laws against them to claim one of their own. 

               The vengeful usurer enters the courtroom alone to claim an award of the forfeiture on the bond previously made by himself and the defendant, Antonio. He is pleaded by the Duke of Venice to display mercy for this act and bring the dispute to a peaceful end (Act 4.1.17) but Shylock is inconsolable. He will have only the blood debt written in the bond, even when offered three times the amount he steadfastly refuses (Act 4.1.86). The matter seems to bode unfavorably of the Venetian unless the doctor of law from Padua that the Duke has sent for can determine the legality of the claims presented by shylock. That doctor has sent an emissary in the form of Portia who is heavily disguised as Balthazar the lawyer. Immediately the facts are presented in the case and in the strict order of the law (at Shylocks urging) the penalty is at last legally binding to Antonio. One last time a plea for mercy and an award of three times the ducats loaned is offered if only Shylock would reconsider (Act 4.1.239). 

               Here, blinded by pure hate he chooses only the revenge that is prescribed in the bond. And the reward for his hate and discourse for the Christians is that he is allowed to cut out the pound of Antonio’s flesh. And as the tension builds and Shylock can almost grasp his victory he is halted and burdened by a surprise technical aspect of the very law that would free him to do his will. In his haste he had secured the bond and not explicitly ensured the safety of Antonio during the excising of his flesh with the supervision of a surgeon. For this he is only to remove the noted pound of flesh as per the agreement and since he did not list any detail about blood he can only take the flesh. This means if his cut yields any more or less of the said pound or possesses a mere drop of blood then he will be sentenced to death and his wealth confiscated. So in his blind hatred, he has overlooked a technical caveat that has threatened his revenge. Faced with these impossible terms he then recants his wish to cut Antonio’s body in exchange for the sum previously offered. The lawyer refused his request and says that he will only receive the justice he most desperately wanted. Shylock then decides to drop the case and leave but is further detained for another infraction that he caused earlier due to his preoccupation with revenge and hatred. 

               He had originally made the bond under the false terms that he would not seek Antonio’s death or the pound of flesh; he said it was a “merry sport” and an act of “friendship” (Act 1. 3. 172). His appearance in court now is in direct conflict of the terms he had agreed upon earlier, and for that he has conspired to take a citizen’s life while he himself is considered an alien. In Venice this carries a sentence of death and confiscation of all wealth. He is pardoned by the Duke for his life and is fined. The other claimant in the case is the newly freed Antonio, he will let Shylock keep his wealth and home if he upon his death he relinquishes his money and title to his daughter and her new husband. And perhaps the most devastating of all the sentences is that he requires Shylock to renounce Judaism and become a Christian. This effectively “kills” Shylock as a human and transforms him into another being, one which he greatly loathes. 

               By the end of the court scene my initial reaction was to empathize with Shylock. He was dealt an underhanded blow that may well have been pre-prepared for him before he entered that court room (the Duke expressed his ability to dissolve this case at his will if he thought it appropriate Act 4.1.105). And for all the wanton usage of wholesale prejudice against him, his award in the case seems like a fitting prize. But that same emotion that caused me to take up Shylocks plight has fostered the very undoing of him altogether. He is not a noble character turned bad but a vehicle to propagating the evil deeds of men while hiding behind lofty tenets. 

               Throughout the play he has schemed and hoped for a downfall in his enemy so that he could be advantaged by it. He has consumed himself with rectifying all the wrongs he perceives as being done to him and his people so unfairly. He has become a living expression of the object of his rage and now is fully consumed because of it.  This has caused him great many disservices along the way. He has lost his daughter to a Christian whom has taken her away and with her countless ducats and jewelry that are being spent most frivolously. He is not being paid back the money he loaned Antonio (had he not been seeking revenge, would he have openly loaned so much as to have to compile it from another usurer under the known circumstances of the borrower? What of Tubal? Will he be paid back now?). And finally he is being deprived his most coveted revenge and having it replaced with crippling sanctions that are placed on him that effectively “kill” any semblance of his known lifestyle and humble him more severely than he could have imagined. 

               I feel the moral of the court scene is not so reliant on the question of prejudice versus privilege or mercy and justice but more on the righteousness of a person’s spirit. This act has clearly demonstrated that intolerance only breeds more intolerance; and these parents can only bear ill fruit. Nothing good can become of either the Venetian’s conduct or the conduct of Shylock. The only way to relieve this cycle would be to remove what it feeds on. And in this case the compounding of ill will and violence are what have been the root causes for all the trouble both sides suffer. It is always easy in theory to explain the path to resolution for these situations but the choices that people make will have an effect unforeseen in their futures and when made under the duress of reality they seem a bit easier to condone in the form of revenge. I think that justice was ultimately served in the case but not to the liking of either party. The ignorant and pompous Antonio was spared his life and must realize how close he had come to death by way of his bigoted manner. This would most likely serve him to be reminded of what is possible due to his actions and to take care in what he says and agrees to based on feeling superior to anyone. But through his very living will lose a friend he seemingly does not want to share. And he will be lonely as Bassanio and his new wife have each other. Shylock’s justice comes to him in the form of being completely removed from everything tainted with his ways of vengeance. He can no longer live the same life that affords him the time and pleasure to conceive his views on Christians and Jews. He is also no longer among the same crowd of lenders who may feed his hatred. And lastly he has been removed from his very daughter because of his ways. He may now gain a more level perspective about his life’s direction and decide what is most important to him. I think that for the condition the characters entered with respect to their abilities they have left better for the experience.

A study of the speaker in Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nymph’s_Reply_to_the_Shepherd

 DISCLAIMER!!!!!!!!!!    [ Make sure you guys read this first (unless you already know it :)]

This is an essay that dwells on a work by Sir Walter Raleigh. I found myself entranced by this selection’s eloquence and delicate beauty of form and structure. Below is my take on the point of view the poem is built around and hopefully demystifies any cryptic verbal passages therein.

The “speaker” in Raleigh’s poem is a nymph that is having a conversation with a shepherd about the state of the world as it is. This is a very interesting poem for me because it has so many implied meanings about the way the world has shirked its youthful innocence and become a little too hardened for the tastes of the nymph. It is my belief the nymph portrays; fancy, love, romance, playfulness and fantasy. These are all the common thoughts that lift us all out of the mire that can be our physical reality. I believe Raleigh is using this language to connote a longing for the world to be very much the poetic and emotional environment that exists only in the minds of writers, children, and lovers. This beautiful poem is brought to life with the use of many metaphorical implications that convey the authors meaning in a muted and understated way.

               The nymph articulates to the shepherd within the first stanza that the world is no longer young nor its inhabitants truthful. She goes on to mandate that if these obstacles could be overcome then she may be inclined to love the world and the shepherd again.  These statements speak to the way of the natural world we live as humans. Notions of these delicate tenets are not the practiced law of the land and we as shepherds have done much deceit to propagate our own existence at the cost of paradise on earth.

               Following the lead stanza the poem develops further on the idea of the comparison of nature and its seasons with the knowledge that everything will die or at its very least fade. In such lines as “Time drives the flock s from field to fold, when rivers rage and rocks grow cold” there is a melancholy sense that an era is passing and will be marked by a future that is uncertain in terms of its predecessor.

               The third stanza is speaking about a relationship and how it withers in the winter’s onset. It draws contrast from the waning of the fields by also explaining the symptoms of spring and its refreshing and renewal factor in life. This alludes me to believe the stanza speaks about the possibility of the fear of losing an older love to a new fresher more youthful lover.

               “Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy bed of roses, thy cap, thy kirtle and thy posies / Soon break soon wither, soon forgotten – in folly ripe, in season rotten” This is especially powerful verse in the prose. Here the descriptors are not metaphorical or implied but plainly stated and relatable to everyday life. In this stanza the feelings of the nymph are concrete and final. She knows that all the earthly items of love and womanhood are doomed to be loved less over time. She is saying that the way in which the shepherd acts now is not an honest reflection on the way he will act in future days and this is merely an act of lust not love.

               In the second to last stanza there are some comparisons made that relate nature’s beauty to a thing of ornate jewelry that is customarily given to ones lover and is symbolic of their commitment. The nymph is saying that these things cannot dissuade her to fall in love merely in and of themselves.

               During the last stanza the nymph mandates what would need to be done for her to love the shepherd. She wants everlasting youth, undying love and the bliss of wonderment for eternity. These commitments speak for the underlying thoughts in every lover when they want to be sure that their mate is feeling the same way as they do. This is the common link in all relationships at one point or another. I think that both parties know the answer to their problems at this point. It seems folly to believe these things can come true in any other realm than ideal.

               In this poem are many contemporary and basically human references that imply to our fondness of natural beauty and the change of the seasons and how it correlates with our lives. To me this poem can be construed in any number of ways, but considering that my reading is the closest to the author’s actual intent then I believe the poem is about earth and humanity. I think Raleigh is writing about the loss of innocence and the ideas of whimsy and love that go missing throughout the routine of our lives. I believe he wants to encourage the reader to embrace the simple beauty of life and make a marriage to the idea that we all need to be grounded and realize there are many beautiful things in our surroundings and make every opportunity to appreciate these less logical and inspiring moments. This is an almost tragic poem and maybe intentionally requires one to act in defiance of the terms it defines in its structure. I greatly enjoyed this reading and found it to be one of my more favorite selections.

The use of setting in a story

Expression in a medium in which nothing is freely visible can be a daunting exercise for any writer to overcome. To bridge this gap there needs to be a developed sense of surrounding to set the story we are reading in a place we as readers can visit and interact with.  This device allows one to grasp the sights, sounds, smells, and ambiance that are being depicted before our minds eye. A symbolic setting can also define the circumstances set into play by the author such as the characters demeanor, condition or moral stance.  A selection from author Joyce Carol Oates’s “Shopping” is an excellent example of using vivid and tangible environments to inject yourself into the story you are reading and also to parallel the characters point of view become immersed into the story.  Also we will also unveil the framing technique used in “The Story of an Hour” to gain an understanding of how author Kate Chopin underscored a realistic trait of the human condition using powerful detail and an enclosing setting to package her character. To begin with, let us examine a particular scene in the story “Shopping” by Oates.

            The main characters, Mrs. Dietrich and her daughter Nola, are in their car en route to a fore planned shopping trip. This alone is not much of an occurrence and doesn’t explain what the tension between them is until you begin to correlate the details affixed in their surroundings. The very road in which they are driving is a metaphor designed to give the reader an idea of the relationships between the two characters. It is first described as a ”jumble” filled with small parks and industrial complexes that are tied in with “torn up earth” and also large tracts of land with “for sale” signs on them. This statement alone tells that there are many undeveloped areas of the relationship between Mrs. Dietrich and her daughter. Oates goes on to write very vivid details that define the emotional state between the mother and daughter. She tells of “there’s a metallic cast to the air and no sun anywhere in the sky but the light hurts Mrs. Dietrich’s eyes just the same.” She is alluding to the atmosphere both outside and even inside the car as it goes on its way. In the next sentence the mother asks “Does it seem if spring will ever come?” This is a wish that she wants desperately for her daughter to finally open up to her mother and give her the type of relationship she thinks is appropriate. These richly detailed setting clues offer the reader a very real sense of this account had actually happened and give the reader an idea of the back-story. The realism used in these descriptions is the key to making the metaphors seem all the more engaging and ultimately bonding the reader with the characters to fully understanding the story.

            In “the Story of an Hour” Chopin wrote a very interesting piece in that her main character (Ms. Mallard) who is suffering with a heart condition and perceived to be in place of restriction is gently told by her sister that her husband was killed in a local accident. She is immediately grief stricken and locks herself away to mourn. From here she “sinks” into her “roomy armchair” and gazes out of her window onto a world rife with great detailed descriptions of life and color. She is seemingly entranced with the prospect that outside her present circumstances reside the world of endless possibility. These details set a very specific framework that seems so realistic that you may well be able to experience them yourself. From this description you as a reader are acclimated to the characters inner thoughts. She feels that now has been given the gift of freedom, choice, and will. For she no longer lives under the smothering nature of her former loving husband. She explains her mourning period with a giddy overtone and builds up to dreaming about the abundance of her remaining days and how she is free to do as she pleases. Her overwrought joy is perceived as delirium from grief. And just at the height of her new pleasure her husband who was not killed but only accidentally implicated returns home unaware of the news and sees his wife. And in that instant when their eyes meet Ms. Mallard who has dreamed a lifetimes worth of open ended sunny days now is dumbfounded to see her husband in front her. This sight triggers her to have a heart attack and causes her to terminate nearly instantaneously. The way in which Chopin’s story uses detail driven sentence structure and masterful framing technique instantly make it enjoyable and quick reading. The setting of her implied tiresome life and mundane routine due to someone merely living sharply contrasts to the end result of all of the lost freedom and subsequent death because of that person still living is a tragic set of events that are a classic example of using framing to give a story a sense of completeness.

            It has been the aim of this essay to demonstrate some of the many ways in which an author can create a world for their characters to exist in. I have demonstrated the usage of verisimilitude to clearly describe what is happening outside the characters interactions that cause their struggle to seem more lifelike and engaging. Also the careful planning or framing of a story offers the reader an interesting and complete sense that when the story is finished it remains with the reader more strongly. The truth is that there are many possible styles and combinations to make a setting rich and life like. Many writers use a mixture that best suits the style they wish to convey or that best fits the characters and plot.